Eight Republican presidential candidates took the stage at Dartmouth College last night for a frank discussion on the main issue driving next year’s presidential election — the economy.
The debate provided moments of entertainment, but, absent a Tea Party audience, seemed like a relatively muted affair. As promised, moderator Charlie Rose kept the conversation focused on fiscal issues, steering clear of the hot-button social issues that have dominated the past few GOP debates.
The atmosphere was much more raucous behind the scenes, as candidates and their campaign staffers worked the spin room and student watch parties — or in Rick Perry’s case, a fraternity — to spin their message.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was definitely the most high-profile guest at the debate last night, although, surprisingly, his endorsement of Mitt Romney never came up on stage.
Michele Bachmann strolled over to the Dartmouth watch party to gladhand with students after the debate.
Meanwhile, campaign advisors worked the press in the spin room above the debate. Here is Charlie Spano, Herman Cain's field operations director.
After a disappointing debate performance, Jon Huntsman did his own spin — a bad sign for his flailing campaign. The Huntsman camp reportedly hightailed it out of Hanover about 15 minutes after the debate ended.
Toward the end of the night, Herman Cain made a surprise appearance in the spin room — and was promptly mobbed by reporters.
Rick Perry avoided the official spin room — but made his own in Dartmouth's Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
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